BMW confirmed today it will launch a new model called the X7, a larger SUV that tops the current X1, X3, X4, X5, and X6 range. The X7 will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the same factory where BMW already builds all of its SUVs except the X1.
BMW will invest $1 billion in the plant between now and 2016 to increase annual production capacity from 300,000 units to 450,000; last year, Spartanburg built 297,326 vehicles. The expansion will reportedly add 800 jobs at the plant.
The German automaker didn't offer any more details on the X7 today, only saying that it is a larger model. "I promise this SAV will also be highly fuel efficient while offering outstanding driving performance. It will be a true BMW," BMW chairman of the board Dr. Norbert Reithofer said.
European bureau chief Georg Kacher reported in summer 2013 that the BMW X7 would be based on an elongated version of the chassis used for the X5/X6 and would debut by 2018. He wrote that the model would be at least six inches longer than an X5, yet also considerably lighter. On top of that, the BMW X7 could be co-opted by Rolls-Royce to build its own SUV.
In a presentation at the Spartanburg factory, Dr. Reithofer also confirmed that a plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X5 will soon go into production. BMW previewed the car with the Concept X5 eDrive at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show, and our spy photographers recently caught it testing on public roads.